Colombians cheer as volcano calms down


Bogota - Authorities lowered the threat level for a volcano in south-western Colombia on Thursday, a day after an eruption spewed burning ash and rock on a nearby city, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The 4 276m Galeras volcano appeared to be stabilising, but the risk of further eruptions in the coming days and weeks remained, Colombia's Volcanology Institute said.

Despite having lowered the threat level, authorities said 8 000 residents living in the shadow of the volcano should expect to feel small tremors and remain vigilant for another evacuation order.

On Wednesday, three separate eruptions unleashed a plume of ash that stretched several kilometres into the sky, forcing people in nearby villages to abandon their homes and seek emergency shelter.

The volcano, 520km south-west of Bogota, near the border with Ecuador, had its last major eruption in April 2002, although no damage was reported.

A 1993 eruption killed nine people, including five scientists who had descended into the crater to sample gases.

In November 2005, the volcano spewed ash that fell about 50km away. - Sapa-AP


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